Wizards fans had to wait until a day after Christmas, but they got the best gift they've received all season when Washington topped Brooklyn 111-96. With the win, the Wizards are back at .500 for the first time since November 27.
What made Saturday's win so nice was how the Wizards didn't let a dreary Saturday afternoon road game against the Brooklyn Nets lead to a flat start. They came out hot, thanks in part to five points and six assists from John Wall in the first quarter, as well as 10 points from Marcin Gortat.
The Nets fought back to made it a competitive game throughout the second and third quarters, but no matter how close Brooklyn made it, the game was never in doubt. The Nets had no way to stop the Wall/Gortat pick-and-roll, and you knew that if the game ever got to a critical point, Washington would be able to use that to get whatever offense they needed to pull away, and that's exactly what happened as the Wizards outscored the Nets 32-19 in the final quarter.
Marcin Gortat continues his rampage
Over the past week, Marcin Gortat has had opportunities to prove play against two of the best centers in the league, and in both games, he's made a case to get some more respect. He scored 25 points on 15 shots and kept Brook Lopez to 19 points on 16 shots. Gortat kept him on his toes defensively, forcing him to move around the court and bodied him up enough on the other end of the court to keep him from getting easy looks. He used the same strategy to outplay DeMarcus Cousins earlier this week.
It's a testament to Marcin Gortat's fitness that he can wear the best centers in the NBA down by how he moves around the court, even though he's turning 32 in February.
Bench continues inconsistency
The Wizards' bench has been a bit of a mess this season, largely due to injuries that have forced Randy Wittman's hand. You can't expect consistent results when your second unit is changing every other game. That said, there are very few situations where a lineup with Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair can be effective. There just isn't enough lateral speed, shot-blocking or athleticism to stop anyone.
The Nets ran off a 12-4 run in under four minutes to get back into the game after the Wizards' starters had created a comfortable early margin. Yes, you can't play Marcin Gortat 48 minutes a night, but the Wizards just can't use those two player together. Even if they have to go super-small, it's a better option 97 times out of 100.
Porter returns, Eddie starts out hot
Otto Porter returned after missing the last three games and started off by doing something he struggled to do before he got hurt: making a three-pointer. Porter was quiet for most of the rest of the game, finishing with 7 points and 2 steals, but more importantly, it didn't look like he was hurt out there. As he gets his wind back, it will be interesting to see how the Wizards reintegrate him into the rotation, considering how well the team has played without him.
Jarell Eddie also made an appearance today, his first as a Washington Wizard. He was started quiet, which isn't the worst thing for a guy in his first NBA game, but came on blazing hot n the second half. He hit four threes in the fourth quarter within the flow of the offense, and he wasn't a liability on the other end. He came in and did exactly what he was brought in to do, as a long-distance specialist from the D-League. It's hard to be upset with anything he did in his 14 minute NBA debut.